I Like It When You Don’t Like It

It's all varnished with an industrial sheen and Seven-And-A-Half Inch Nails aggression, plus lyrics that your grandmother might disapprove of slightly ([I]"I Am The God Of Fuck"[/I]  Are you reall

Beelzebub himself was surely crying into his beer. He had high hopes for [a]Marilyn Manson[/a]. Why, Stateside satanists are already referring to him as ‘The Reverend Manson’ and as we speak, schools are issuing leaflets warning teachers and parents of this dangerous new cult. And already, with barely a proper hit under his belt, he’s selling out Brixton Academy.

He’s not the only one who desperately needs [a]Marilyn Manson[/a] to save rock’n’roll from the forces of Blairo-Christian good sense. Mazzer appears for all the world to be the first true rock star we’ve seen since Britpop. In this cynical age he has even threatened to bring a little Bowie-esque mystique back into an alternative scene that’s grown stodgy and slothful on an endless diet of bread and butter guitar-pop and egg and chips trad-rock. The lad looks a bit special.

So imagine our surprise when he is revealed to be little more than a second-rate goth Larry Lurex cartoon. Shadows. Doomy portentous intro music. And there but for the grace of God go Sigue Sigue Sputnik, as his band appear to be tragic old goff-punks riding the hairsprayed crest of one last hoorah. The flickering TVs, sci-fi chic, glitter kitsch and voodoo drumbeats are desperately trying to scream postmodern sophistication but this every inch is an old modernist’s affair. Away from the studio’s space-age cocoon, musically it reveals itself as little more than cod-epic old-school goth, but without the claustro-atmospherics of The Sisters Of Mercy or their ability to be emotionally and spiritually hair-raising. If the Sisters were The Exorcist, this is I Spit On Your Grave. Oh, and there’s the total lack of tunes. But wait! He’s got his hand down his trousers, he’s going to… no he isn’t, actually.

True, it’s all varnished with an industrial sheen and Seven-And-A-Half Inch Nails aggression, plus lyrics that your grandmother might disapprove of slightly ([I]”I Am The God Of Fuck”[/I] – Are you really, dear? That’s nice), but what exactly is there here to clutch to your beating breast?

Not a lot. You hoped he had not only the brains and glamour of the early Manics, but the polemic and rhetoric as well, cutting through the complacency of modern pop culture. But that would never have gone down well in the Midwest, and he wouldn’t be where he is today.

Instead, the extent of his political gravitas tonight is shock-horror posturing, ripping up a Bible and putting the word ‘DRUGS’ up in lights. But wait! Hands down trousers again! Wiggling it around a bit! Here it comes… Mumsy, make the bad man stop! And he does.

Of course, at least there’s a sense of humour and flirtation with irony – always the last refuge of the spiritually vacuous. He needs to have the ironic vote on his side because he can’t resist becoming a cult, ghettoised and laughed at rather than smirked with. And that in itself is another level of mystique – is this guy for real or not?

Sooner or later, however, another question becomes more pressing; namely: how many [a]Marilyn Manson[/a] songs do you know? OK, so maybe they don’t get played on the radio because of the Judaeo-Christian conspiracy to discredit the Dark Lord’s true message, but the only memorable tune tonight is a version of Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’.

To win the hearts and minds of Middle America and get doing the Devil’s work in earnest, at this rate Marilyn might have to rope in Desmond Child.

Meanwhile, as you strip away the layers of cornflour make-up, you can still detect the California sun, the need to show off your new tattoos and shock the neighbours, while all the time being achingly traditional in your idea of rock’n’roll. And no, he didn’t get his bloody knob out. Thank Satan.